Can you put hair conditioner on your beard?

When we start growing a beard it is tempting to try to use the ingredients and products that we already have to hand to clean and wash your beard. Nearly everyone shower already has hair shampoo and hair conditioner and for a while it seems reasonable to assume that we can use both of these products on our beards as well as our heads. Is this truly the case? Can you put hair conditioner on your beard? Can you use hair shampoo to cleanse your beard? All of these questions are going to be answered in this article.

Yes, you can use hair conditioner on your beard. Both beard conditioner and hair conditioner contain similar ingredients which act to nourish, moisturise, and remove the static frizz from your beard and your hair. However, beard conditioners contain more natural oils and are a better alternative if you want to really look after your beard.

To really understand the difference between beard conditioner and hair conditioner we need to look at the ingredients. We shall cover that in the next section.

Beard conditioner vs hair conditioner

In the tables below I have outlined the ingredients of a common beard conditioner and a well-known brand of hair conditioner and listed what it does next to the ingredient. I have tried my best to find the reason why each of the ingredients are involved and it will give you an idea of how similar and different each of the ingredients for both the beard conditioner and the hair conditioner are.

What’s in a beard conditioner?

Beard conditioners contain a mixture of ingredients which act to reduce the static and frizzing in your hair as well as stabilising the product so it has a long shelf life. One thing that you should notice while looking at the ingredients below is that there are a number of natural oils which are included in the beard conditioner.

The inclusion of the extra oils is because the skin on your face does not produce as many oils as the skin on your head. This means that a shampoo will likely remove most of the natural oils from your beard and a good beard conditioner will look to add in some extra oil which would make the hair on your head look greasy.

Beard conditionerWhat it does
WaterSolvent
Cetearyl Alcoholemollient, viscosity controlling, emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
 Dimethiconestops it from separating
 Behentrimonium ChlorideReduce static and frizzing
 AmodimethiconeSilicon polymer
 Behentrimonium Methosulfatesurfactant/​cleansing
 Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oiloil
 Cyclopentasiloxanetexture improver
 Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) ButterNourishment
 Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oiloil
 Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oiloil
 DimethiconolSilicon based oil
 Olea Europea (Olive) Fruit Oiloil
 C10-40 Isoalkylamidopropylethyldimonium EthosulfateAnti static
 Cetyl Alcohol
 Tocopheryl AcetateVitamin E
 Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oiloil
 Caprylic/Capric TriglycerideCoconut oil
 Panthenolmoisterizer
 Disodium EDTAPreservtives and stabilizer
 Citric Acid
 Glycol StearateSkin conditioner
 Dipropylene GlycolImproves texture and stability
 PhenoxyethanolPreservative
 Benzoic AcidStabilizer
 EhtylhexylglycerinPreservative
 Glycereth-2 Cocoate
 Fragrance (Parfum)perfuming

An interesting inclusion to this beard conditioner is the antistatic and anti-frizz ingredients. Behentrimonium Chloride is a yellow waxy organic compound which can be used as an antistatic agent in conditioners.

Anti static molecules work by making the surface of the hair slightly conductive stop the molecules often have a water loving and a water hating and so that the water hating and interacts with the hair whilst the water loving side interacts with the air moisture and stops frizzing.

So, if you have a lot of issues with frizzy beard hair using a dedicated beard conditioner will be one of the ways in which you can assure yourself you have done everything you can to reduce the frizz.

Does hair conditioner often contain the same amount of oils and anti-frizz agents? Let’s find out in the next section.

What’s in hair conditioner?

I took these ingredients from a popular brand of hair conditioner. What your notice is that the top two ingredients are the same as the beard conditioner. It also contains a number of other ingredients which improve the way the product feels as well as its stability.

One thing that is interesting to note about a hair conditioner is that this brand did not contain as many natural oils as the beard conditioner. Yes, there will be some variation in the different ingredients between brands and if you want to I’m sure that you could find a hair conditioner with a good amount of natural organic oils which would match the beard conditioner’s ingredients.

In this table I have highlighted the ingredients and what each ingredient does.

Hair conditionerWhat it does
Aqua/Watersolvent
Cetearyl Alcoholemollient, viscosity controlling, emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Propylene Glycolmoisturizer/​humectant, solvent, viscosity controlling
Maleic Acidbuffering
Behentrimonium Methosulfatesurfactant/​cleansing
Ethanolaminebuffering
Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamineemulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
Glycerinskin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/​humectant
Phenoxyethanolpreservative
Hydroxyethylcelluloseviscosity controlling
Parfum/Fragranceperfuming
Quaternium-91
Polyquaternium-37viscosity controlling
Benzoic Acidpreservative
Paraffinum Liquidum/Mineral Oilemollient, solvent
Cetrimonium Chlorideantimicrobial/​antibacterial, emulsifying, preservative, surfactant/​cleansing
Cetrimonium Methosulfateantimicrobial/​antibacterial, emulsifying, surfactant/​cleansing
PPG-1 Trideceth-6surfactant/​cleansing
Acrylates Copolymerviscosity controlling
Hexyl Cinnamalperfuming
Linaloolperfuming
2-Oleamido- 1,3-Octadecanediol
Citronellolperfuming
Sorbitan Oleateemulsifying

These ingredients are perfect for head hair and they can be used comfortably on beard hair too. If you find that after using hair conditioners your beard ends up to dry I would recommend switching to a dedicated beard conditioner. One thing you’ll notice in the ingredients list, above, is that there are still some surfactant (soap) and cleansing ingredients in the hair conditioner.

This means that a hair conditioner has got a higher potential of drying out your beard and removing the natural oils which can leave your beard looking dry and dull.

THE BOTTOM LINE

the number one thing you should take from these tables is that although the ingredients are very similar the beard conditioner formulation contains more natural oils. This is because your beard is naturally a less oily spot on your head then your head hair. Also, the conditioner for your head contains some soaps which can further dehydrate your beard. If you are new to growing a beard then head conditioner will be fine for a while. As your beard gets longer, I would recommend migrating to a dedicated beard conditioner which will give you the opportunity to replace the natural oils that you lose during shampooing.

Maintaining a balance between removing the dirt and grime that builds up throughout the day and not stripping the hairs from the natural oils that are produced by your face is going to be the ultimate balancing act for keeping your beard looking healthy, shiny, and well nourished throughout the day.

Will hair conditioner soften a beard?

Looking at the ingredients of the hair conditioner it is safe to say that a conditioner will soften a beard. But, because a conditioner has been specially formulated to deal with the environment which is encountered on the face (rather than the environment on your head) a dedicated beard conditioner will likely leave a beard softer than a hair conditioner will.

That said, there is no reason why in the early stages of growing out your beard you cannot use a hair conditioner to achieve a soft and conditioned beard.

As your beard gets longer, I would recommend investigating the different types of beard conditioners which will more likely give you a better outcome for your longer beard hair.

Using hair products on beard

What about other hair products? Can you use other hair products on a beard. In the bullet list below I have listed some common hair products which you may or may not be tempted to use on your beard. Some of these products you should never use on your beard as they could dry out the hair. Whilst others can be used freely.

  • Hair shampoo – never use a hair shampoo on your beard. This is because the hair shampoo is specifically designed to remove oils from your head hair. You see, the scalp is much more oily than the skin on your face. Overusing a hair shampoo on your beard is the number one reason why a lot of people end up with very frizzy and uncontrollable hairs. If you want to know more about the best beard soaps check out my other article where I have an ultimate guide and an introduction to the best products – click here to be taken to article.
  • Hair conditioner – this is what this article is all about and even though you can use hair conditioner on your beard I would recommend using a dedicated beard conditioner because of the extra emphasis on replacing the oils in your beard after shampooing.
  • Anti Frizz – yes, you can use an anti-frizz spray on your beard. Antifreeze sprays typically have small electronically charged molecules which stick to the hair and electrically conduct stuff away from the surface of the hair. If you find that your beard is very frizzy all the time using a antifreeze spray may be the only way to combat the static which builds up during the day or during combing and other grooming maintenance.
  • UV protector – yes, you can use a UV protector spray on your beard. If you work outdoors a lot it is highly recommended that your beard is protected from UV rays. These are relatively inexpensive and a simple spritz on top of your beard will protect it throughout the day.
  • Heat protector – yes, you can use a heat protector on your beard. Heat protectors for beards protect the hair from the extremes of temperature that they encounter when you are blow drying or straightening your beard. If you straighten your hair every morning and you want to protect your hair this is probably one of the best investments you can make.
  • Oils – yes, you can use oils on your beard. Natural oils are a great way to impart some moisture and nourishment into your hair and the oils don’t discriminate on the type of hair. You can use it on your face and your head hair. You will find that your beard will require more oiling than your head as your head is actually quite good at producing natural oils.

Can I use regular shampoo and conditioner on my beard?

It is best that you do not use regular shampoo and conditioner on your beard. Regular shampoo and conditioner are formulated for the types of oils and build up that you get on the top of your head. That is a very different environment to the cheek and chin area of your face.

Head shampoo is an absolute no for beards! This is because they use stronger surfactants (soaps) than in beard shampoo formulation. Completely stripping your beard of its natural oils will only serve to damage your beard and to make it dry and dull. Once this happens it is hard to recover and it takes a number of weeks to replace the natural oils which builds up over time.

Head conditioner is okay. Using a head conditioner on your beard, like this article highlights, is okay in the short run. It’s not exactly formulated for beards but it will do the majority of the conditioning that you want from a beard conditioner. As your beard gets longer and you need to care for your beard more I would recommend switching to a dedicated beard conditioner which contains more natural oils to replace the oils which are removed when shampooing your beard.

If you want to use your hair conditioner on your beard I recommend that you use a conditioner formulated for dry head hair. That will make it more suited to the conditions on your face.

Does Conditioner help beard growth?

There is no evidence to support the fact that a conditioner can help increase your beard growth. However, by using conditioner your beard grows better and stronger by protecting the hairs that your face is able to produce. Using a conditioner can help beard growth by ensuring that each hair is strong and is less likely to become damaged and therefore break.

Here are some of the best reasons that you should consider using a dedicated beard conditioner:

  • It nourishes and moisturizes the beard – one of the biggest benefits to your beard – it makes it lovely and soft and will make your wirey hair much easier to manage.
  • It helps softens the stubble on the face – If you are not one for growing a long beard but prefer to keep it close to the skin the it’ll help soften the ends of the hairs and make it way less spikey!
  • Imparts a healthy shine – A well-conditioned beard is one with a nice healthy shine to it. If you want to find out more tips and tricks to making your beard shine – check out my other article.
  • It makes combing and styling easier – having hair that doesn’t grip the comb and sits well after it is brushed into place is an achievable outcome if you use a beard conditioner regularly.
  • It reduces irritation and dry skin – the skin under a beard is not easy to look after. However, the regular use of a conditioner will leave the skin nourished and irritation-free. If you are worried about bacteria and a smelly beard you can also use a beard conditioner with essential oil that has antibacterial properties.
  • They leave a nice fragrance The last and maybe one of the strongest effects noticed by others is that a good beard conditioner will leave your beard smelling lovely! Choose a beard conditioner that has a smell that you like and, if you have a significant other, make sure that they also like the smell! There is nothing quite like a lovely smelling product!

Supporting your beard by conditioning the hair will help support your beard growth. It just one encouraged extra growth that wouldn’t have happened naturally.

Best beard conditioner

I have written a whole article on the best beard conditioner is that you come by – click here to be taken to the article where I compare 10 awesome options for you.

Beard and stache conditioner

Elixirium’s BEARD & STACHE CONDITIONER is formulated from the ground up especially for facial hair use.
Like the entire elixirium’s BEARD & STACHE line, it is the result of months thorough research and numerous trials and errors, in order to become of super premium quality and top of the line, signature beard and mustache care products.

A carefully designed blend of vegan wax, organic butter like Shea and Coconut butter, organic Argan, Avocado, Jojoba and Castor oils along with organic Liquid Silk proteins and vitamin F are forming a rich conditioning cream which is really the key to a silky soft, vivid, properly moisturized and well-nourished and wonderfully scented glorious beard and mustache.

INGREDIENTS: Organic Liquid Silk Proteins, Shea butter, Vegan Wax, Argan oil, Coconut butter, Avocado oil, Jojoba oil, Castor oil, Vitamin F.

Summary

In the short run using hair conditioner on your beard is fine. Yes, it contains some soaps which can further dry out your beard and it doesn’t contain as many natural oils as your beard would probably like but it won’t cause any damage.

I recommend that as your beard gets longer and you care more and more about your beard you should consider using a dedicated beard conditioner instead of a hair conditioner. This means that your beard will be given the best chance to be strong, shiny, and well nourished even if you choose to shampoo it often.

You should also consider backing up your beard conditioning with a leaving conditioner such as a beard balm or a beard butter. This will be the best combination of products which will keep your beard looking awesome throughout the day!

The Author


Andy Stapleton

Andy is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He is an avid beard grower and after many years of growing and trialing different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!